THE MAIA METHOD
“At the core of humanity is totally integrity, a wholeness that is not touched by the drama of history or everyday life. Just like the red hot centre of the earth, there is a power to this core. Imbalances in our bodies and minds can disconnect us from this integrity and make us live in layers of ourselves that are far away from the centre. The MAIA method is about bringing people through those layers and back to the centre, to deeply experience that sense of wholeness and live from this place. The MAIA METHOD is not about becoming but about returning. People don’t need more tools to better themselves; they just need to get better at knowing themselves, imperfectly human and whole at the same time.”
Dr Mel Taitimu, Director @ MAIA
The MAIA METHOD:
RECALIBRATE your BODY
REINTEGRATE your MIND
REIGNITE your HEART
At MAIA we have developed a framework to support you to work on your growth and wellbeing. This framework has been developed over a number of years, based on what we have learned in thousands of hours of therapy. The MAIA METHOD is designed to support you with your growth in a way that is more holistic than traditional mainstream psychological therapy but is also based in the science of what works.
Hi everyone, my name is Mel, director at MAIA,
I wanted to share a somewhat personal story about why I developed the MAIA METHOD and what it means to me. As a psychology student I entered my post graduate training with some pretty big ideals. I was inspired by a lecturer I had in undergraduate classes who challenged the way in which the medical model has turned human suffering into a “condition” that needed “treating” as opposed to a human response to events or trauma in our lives. Watching this person challenge the system ignited something within me and I wanted to be part of that movement, to help a whole system change (no small goal I know!). I had a deep desire to find out how psychology could be more aligned to the healing that people really needed as opposed to clinical/medical treatments that pathologise human suffering.
This ideal was also shaped by my cultural background, being Māori. As I learnt more about psychology it became pretty apparent that experiences that were normal for Māori were being seen as part of a mental illness by western psychology (for example seeing visions or hearing voices). The research I ended up conducting as a PhD student was invested in understanding more about the intersection between Māori and Mainstream psychology and the diagnosis of schizophrenia. This research was an eye opener and a heart breaker. I heard many stories of how the system was letting my people down and even traumatising them, while under the guise of trying to treat them for something that had little to no relevance as a term within the cultural context in which they were raised. This part of my journey taught me about activism and reclaiming language around wellbeing. If you want to read more about my research you can find it here.
During my placements, internship and early work as a clinical psychologist, I felt like a square peg in a round hole.
I was working within a system that I felt was at best, not helping and at worst, causing harm – particularly within inpatient units.
I saw inhumane treatments, psychiatrists judge people in racist and/or medicalised ways and I also saw a significant amount of overmedicating people, especially young people.
In my opinion, medication has the effect of cutting people off from their hearts or spirits. Sharing these views in team meetings often didn’t go down too well.
I am not anti medication by the way, I have seen some SSRI’s and a few other medications really support some clients get to a place of functioning,
I am however against polypharmacy, using medication as a first line of treatment and not thinking about broader systemic change that is required as opposed to medicating people against an “ill culture” ( I could go on about this for hours so I will stop there).
A few serendipitous events lead me to decide to work privately. I do not regret my time in the “system”, I learnt a huge amount and developed clinical experience under psychologists and clinicians who I admire (many people in the system know it isn’t working and are working hard for a paradigm shift). I find that any young psychologist going straight into private practice misses out on the learning that can be gained from working in community or inpatient settings, there is a mentorship and learning that is difficult to gain in the isolated nature of private work.
After a few years of working within some private practices, back at university and raising a couple of young children, I established MAIA. It was at this point that I had about 12 years experience working as a clinical psychologist. During this time, I had found some really effective tools to support clients to work on their wellbeing. These tools were enhanced by my learning within indigenous psychologies, mindfulness based interventions (ACT, DBT, radical acceptance, self compassion, emotional alchemy) and body based interventions (tapping, yoga nidra, yoga). I did not learn these tools within my training programme, it was in my practice as a psychologist that I sought out broader therapies that were aligned to working with clients in a more holistic way. Once I established MAIA I really came back to myself as a psychologist. I felt like I had a space and place to practice my philosophy and invite clients who were seeking a similar path to their growth.
This is the professional background that set the stage for me to develop the MAIA METHOD. Personally, I continue to undergo a process around my own healing and growth that has informed my practice, but I will share that story another day.
The MAIA METHOD is an integrative psychological approach to wellbeing that I have developed over thousands of hours of working with clients. I have found there are common blocks to the therapeutic progress as well as some common facilitators for improvement. Traditional psychological therapy can be ineffective if we do not consider the broader picture of wellbeing. Moving into 2021 we will be conducting programmes based on the MAIA method and preliminary research regarding the efficacy of the programme. I have provided a very brief outline of the MAIA Method below.
Phase one, The MAIA METHOD;
RECALIBRATE your BODY
What I know now, and what my training didn’t teach me, is that we all need to start with our bodies. Our bodies keep count, if we don’t recalibrate in our physical selves, working on our minds and hearts is a much harder job. Our feelings sit on our bodies and cause imbalances in our nervous system. Working on our bodies can look different for everyone however every tool is designed to recalibrate the nervous system and get daily rhythms back on track.
Phase two, The MAIA METHOD;
REINTEGRATE your MIND
Phase two helps you to move past 'surviving' into a stage of 'rewiring'. Phase one is designed to support you to stop running on constant sympathetic nervous system override and have the energy to do the work in of reintegrating your mind. Reintegration identifies unhelpful patterns of thinking, feeling and doing to rewire self defeating or repetitive cycles. As we rewire, we are no longer controlled by old stories (that we pick up along the way) and have more agency over what we do. Mainstream psychology is most aligned to stage two of the MAIA METHOD.
Phase three, The MAIA METHOD;
REIGNITE your HEART
After re-calibrating our bodies and working on habitual patterns of thinking (Phase one and two of the MAIA METHOD), you then have the tools to overcome the major obstacles that show up in your body and mind. You are ready for the 3rd phase of the MAIA METHOD and move towards a state of "thriving". Many people lose connection with their hearts (spirit, soul, intuition, wisdom…whatever you want to call it) when they experience imbalance and blockages in their bodies and minds. Stage 3 of the MAIA method supports you to connect with what brings you joy and a sense of purpose and meaning in your everyday life. Reigniting the heart helps you to live a life that is in a greater state of flow. Even when challenges arise, the heart guides you through this space with wisdom, purpose and meaning (think Yoda or Gandalf as a metaphor). Interestingly, this is where most people want to start at the beginning of therapy, not knowing that phase one and two are required to really light that fire and ignite their hearts.
So there you have it, the story behind the MAIA METHOD. There is a book currently being written as well as our first therapeutic intensive based on the MAIA METHOD coming up in February 2021. Watch this space as we will be rolling out podcasts and articles based on the MAIA METHOD too.
Please share any feedback or thoughts here regarding the MAIA METHOD or to keep updated on our programmes and resources.